Who am I? When I was a kid, I grew up in the countryside, outside of Taichung, a city in the middle of Taiwan. Thirty years ago, many people in Taiwan were poor, so farming was their primary source of income. My grandmother grew vegetables and sold them in the town’s morning market and raised 5 to 6 adult pigs at any given time. My father had his own rice field. He harvested rice twice a year, and also helped other family members raise chickens and ducks. I remember helping my grandmother sell vegetables when she couldn’t find enough buyers and racing with pigs when I was bored. This was my life when I was kid and I enjoyed it. When my dining room table had different kinds of green vegetables across it, I knew it was spring. When my father laid the rice out on the front yard under the sun, I knew it was summer. However, when I was around10, more and more factories moved in and less and less farmland remained. Clean rivers that I use to fish in turned yellow, and as time went on there were no more crabs, frogs or fish. My grandmother stopped gardening and changed her pig pen into a factory for my uncle, and my father decided to work sharpening saws for a lumberyard to make more money. I witnessed my family’s change from farming to industry. Now that I am 37 years-old, I want to be the one in my family who goes back to the life that I miss so much.
Why do I want to be an organic farmer? I have been a nurse for most of my adult life, working in hospitals and clinics. And although I like some aspects of the work, it wasn’t what made me happy. So, I took an organic farming class at the YMCA. After I finished the class, I rented a plot of land for one year and grew vegetables on it. I loved it. I forgot how much I enjoyed digging in the dirt, feeling the wind and sun on my face. It was hard work and this experience made me realize that I wanted to become a farmer. Not only did I realize how much I loved farming, but I also fell in love with cooking as well. The happiest time for me was to come home after working in my garden, go to the kitchen, turn on the stove, and cook after a long day of work. You see, very few people in Taiwan cook because the food is cheap and everyone prefers to eat out. This sounds great, but with my experience being a nurse, it’s very scary, too. Personally, I suffered from strange back pains and blood in my urine for reasons the doctors could never explain. Later, working as a nurse in a dialysis clinic, most of the patients do not suffer from diabetes, but instead their kidneys suddenly shut down after so many years of spraying pesticides on their farms, drinking contaminated well water from all the factories, and eating poisonous sugar and oil in the restaurant food. Now that I have made the connection, I am happy to realize how important sustainable agriculture is for a person’s well-being and for society as a whole.
What am I going to do after I come back home? After I am finished I would like to return to Taiwan and have my own farm. I also want to promote sustainable agriculture to the community. For example, I want to educate people about why they should care about where their food comes and from, and why we should pay more money for food so we can support our local farmers. In addition, I want to promote organic farming methods to local farmers. Finally, if I become the first person from Taiwan to graduate from the MESA program, I would encourage my alma mater, which is Taiwan’s leading agricultural university, to consider becoming a global partner.
Where am I? I am still in the US and work at Golden Rule mini farm in Willits, California. At Golden Rule I am learning about biointensive gardening skills so I can grow more food with limit space and use less water.
|Golden Rule Farm's persimmon tree!|
|Finally no weeds in berry bush! |
Photo taken by Mayra Martinez Mota
|Look! Lettece grow so well in the green house during the winter time. Photo taken by Mayra Martinez Mota|